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Being from Hajan and waking up to the azaan being played to a familiar beat of bullets, to a familiar anguish and desperation in the family, to the fear of a stray bullet smashing your window anytime and hitting you in the bed, to a strange discomfort to hear the gun shots off and join the unruly crowd hurtling to the encounter site to hear the gossip, to look for the devastation, blood marks and the frenzied spontaneous clamor hum kya chahte followed by an eerie calm until the next storm, does no more induce me with an urge to write about our wretchedness or  discuss with my friends in hour-long street galimatias about Kashmir to look for intellectual avenues to see us out of this wretchedness, for we have already exhausted all the language to describe our pain and, unfortunately, we are still unheard. Contrarily, however, all this has left us hopelessly marooned in an existential vacuum between Schopenhauer’s two unassailable extremes of distress and boredom. A servile fearfulness of being never heard or heeded, of an excruciating realization of the hundreds of newspaper editorials and magazine articles solicitously chiseling the language to perfectly encase the depth, urgency and intensity of our suffering actually making no difference at all, of a time badly stuck in the void of uncertainty, has slowly eaten into our souls, rendering our existence a directionless and purposeless affair.

Being from Shopian and Kulgam, where they now even shoot at the shadows, where the invincible death plays with the young with an unabashed interest, where the sun rises to a jaded people leaving their homes, a huge crowd swarming about a funeral and roaring the loudest unheard slogans of azadi, a prickly disquiet in a family until the son returns safe, and sets to a confusing calm leaving the sky screen above the Pir Panjal smeared with blood, we  are slowly lumbering into a castrated space of despair where we, seemingly, swim to sink and not to the shore, for there is none in the view and where we are condemned to suffering, for all the arrangements are designed thus. As long as the power of the word and voice belongs to the oppressor the despair belongs to the oppressed. Our voice, no matter how true, honest and unprejudiced, essentially means nothing to the oppressor. We believe and emphatically say it that Indian Army indiscriminately fired and killed innocent Shopian boys, imagine, for instance, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath saying the same. That is the difference.

Being a student from Kashmir is the pitiable of all. The most prestigious social institution of Education, where the scandalous political system of our state consciously allows the destruction of our youth, is in a miserably fragile condition. After the brutal killing of four civilians in Shopian our schools started with a closure on the very first day after a long winter vacations break. On the one hand they want to revolutionize the education system by forcefully implementing changes to keep pace with changing trends in global education and on the other hand they never wish to see the students assemble in a school or a college. The continuous suspension of class work in colleges and closure of schools and a sense of frozen uncertainty everywhere have slowly diverted the course of education in our institutions. Considering how the students could be compensated for the months of precious time wasted in the government enforced suspensions one only sinks lower in the depths of despair.  As a teacher I terribly feel myself and our so called institutions of higher learning irrevocably caged in an encompassing servile fearfulness. A lingering ennui, a strange desperation and an enforced silence have overtaken the erstwhile intellectual ambience, I have once known, of our colleges. It is just more about serving and less about thinking. It is a strange land; whoever thinks or whatever makes you think can be anti-establishment here. Therefore, do not think and be. Furthermore, our students, given the escalating insecurity caused by the sensational juggernaut of nationalism, are now too wary to pursue education outside the valley in various Indian states. Though, in two different ways but our students are endangered both inside and outside.

Being a laborer and a lonely breadwinner, selling wares and vegetables and other small vendible items from a pushcart in a street where you never know when a customer walks by or when the street is deserted, is again a very lamentable side of our existence. Our working class may have exhibited a flicker of resilience to thwart the unjust stifling regime but the unceasing, relentless suppression and the worsening political blight has slowly snuffed it out.

The growing atmosphere of uncertainty, the regressive clampdown on the freedom of expression, the persistent meddling with the normal human life, the vicious cycle of killings, and the cold and indifferent state political behavior can only widen the gulf of ennui and despair and deprive a full generation of an existential coherence. The only thing you need to know is that Jammu and Kashmir is a political conflict awaiting a political resolution, and whatever has transpired in the meanwhile is just rhetoric and repetition, which further sinks us into the abyss of boredom and nothing else. And because we know this as truth the majority of us are bored. I have fears that their “foul deeds shall smell above the earth” but I really do not know, given the immanent fearfulness and boredom the prolonged disturbance has caused, as to when shall the “graves yawn and yield up their dead.”

Ghulam Mohammad khan, Assistant Professor , Government College of Engineering and Technology Safapora, Ganderbal

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